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RailRiders interest sold to investment group

Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailridersMandalay Baseball Properties’ half interest in the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders (Class AAA; International League) will be sold to SWB Investors LLC, pending MiLB and International League approvals.

The principals behind SWB Investors LLC are David Abrams, David Blitzer, Grant Cagle and Michael Hisler. All local team management, including team president and general manager Rob Crain, will remain in place following the closing of the transaction. The New York Yankees will retain their half ownership in the franchise.

Some notes on the new investors. Blitzer is a senior executive at Blackstone Group. Abrams is a senior advisor and former partner of Apollo Global Management. Both men are graduates of the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business. Cagle is the president/CEO of Cagle Land, Timber, and Real Estate Management, and a minority owner of the Mobile BayBears (Class AA; Southern League). Hisler is a senior managing partner at Cerberus Capital Management. The group plans to add ownership interests from Northeast Pennsylvania before the sale’s formal closing.

Terms of the sale were not released, though it’s expect to fall in the $13-$15 million range.

“In partnership with the New York Yankees, all of our efforts in SWB have been a true labor of love these past eight seasons,” said Art Matin, CEO of Mandalay Baseball. “We’re very thankful for the support of our fans and our corporate and civic partners and are thrilled to turn the reins over to David, David, Grant and Michael. We know they, along with the Yankees, will create a very strong ownership group and continue to take PNC Field and the SWB RailRiders to great heights.”

“The Yankees remain fully committed to the RailRiders and Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, as reflected in our continuing ownership of the RailRiders,” said New York Yankees COO Lonn Trost. “The Yankees’ relationship with Mandalay Baseball has been successful for the community as well as the Yankees’ Triple-A franchise and we look forward to continuing our relationship with the community in conjunction with the new ownership group, with which we have great confidence. We are also pleased that the operations of the RailRiders will continue under the leadership of president and general manager Rob Crain.”

“I am ecstatic to join the RailRiders family and share my passion for baseball and love for the New York Yankees with the fans in Northeast Pennsylvania,” Abrams said. “We will support Rob and his talented team as they continue to positively impact the local community and exemplify what minor league baseball is all about. I am realizing a childhood dream and can’t wait for the opening of the 2015 season.

“I could not be more thrilled to be a part of the RailRiders organization and its partnership with the New York Yankees,” Blitzer said. “What Rob and his staff have built carries clout throughout the industry. I look forward to working with him, his front office team and our outstanding partners in the Bronx as we continue to deliver a high-quality fan experience to the good folks of Northeast Pennsylvania.”

“As a longtime Yankees fan, combining my love for baseball and pinstripes is a dream come true,” said Cagle. “Between my previous experience in minor league baseball and the outstanding status the RailRiders hold in Northeast Pennsylvania, I’m elated to be a part of this franchise for many years to come.”

“We love sending our players to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre,” said New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman. “We look forward to continuing that strong relationship with the new ownership group. We also love developing the future stars of the New York Yankees at the state-of-the-art PNC Field.”

“After a brief conversation with this potential ownership team, I was impressed with their steadfast commitment to Triple-A baseball in Lackawanna County and their passion for continuing to deliver an unmatched, family-friendly fan experience,” said Lackawanna County commissioner Corey O’Brien.

“We welcome the opportunity to work with the new ownership group, as they have expressed an interest in our area and the desire to be part of our community,” said Lackawanna County commissioner Jim Wansacz. “They understand the importance of baseball as it relates to family-fun entertainment and have come to the same conclusion as we have, that this is a great area with lots of promise.”

This is the third sale of Mandalay Baseball Properties assets in the last month. Chuck Greenberg led a purchase of the Frisco RoughRiders (Class AA; Texas League), while another investment group purchased the Dayton Dragons (Low Class A; Dayton Dragons). Meanwhile, Peter Guber and other investors are said to be closing on a purchase of the Oklahoma City RedHawks (Class AAA; Pacific Coast League). The remaining Mandalay franchise, Erie SeaWolves (Class AA; Eastern League), is said to be attracting the attention of Detroit-area investors.

RELATED STORIES: Guber group buying RedHawks; ties to Dodgers means new affiliation; Frisco RoughRiders sale approved by Texas League, Minor League Baseball; Dayton Dragons sale announced; Greenburg, Sonju close on purchase of Frisco RoughRiders; Mandalay Baseball Properties on the block

Here’s a look at the current affiliate status in Minor League Baseball.


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